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Boxing Helena
Boxing Helena
Actors: Julian Sands, Sherilyn Fenn, Bill Paxton, Kurtwood Smith, Art Garfunkel
Director: Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2001     1hr 47min

Fantasy, desire and manipulation make for a savory-yet-volatile cocktail in this psychological thriller about a woman held captive by a man who loves her. First-time writer-director Jennifer ChambersLynch (The Diary of Lau...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Julian Sands, Sherilyn Fenn, Bill Paxton, Kurtwood Smith, Art Garfunkel
Director: Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Creators: Jennifer Chambers Lynch, Brigitte Caland, Carl Mazzocone, James R. Schaeffer, Larry Sugar, Laurel Ayn Selko, Philippe Caland
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/10/2001
Original Release Date: 09/03/1993
Theatrical Release Date: 09/03/1993
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 47min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 26
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

An erotic, psychotic drama thats still bizarre to watch
Eddie Lancekick | Pacific Northwest | 10/04/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Boxing Helena is one of those films that became somewhat of a cult classic DVD more for its theme than its actors or overall dialogue and script. The plot is to good to pass up, its basically obsession driven to the extreme.

Boxing Helena stars Julian Sands as Dr. Nick Cavanaugh, who is somewhat of an introvert at heart, but can it be helped? The guy's mother was pretty much an aristocratic tramp who at the end of her life left him a giant mansion to stew in during his bachelorhood. Okay, he is not a hermit; he does have a girlfriend named Anne Garrett (Betsy Clark). It does not matter much though; as there is still a woman from his little black book he cannot stop thinking about. The woman's name is Helena (Sherilyn Fenn) and lives nearby. Nick is constantly trying to work his way back into her life, and eventually does. That does not matter either though, because she brushes him off time and time again like day old dandruff. Then the day comes when she is arguing with him near the street in front of his home, when something terrible happens to Helena.

Nick now has the opportunity he always wanted. Immobile from a severe injury, Nick keeps her at his house as a prisoner, constantly doting on her. The whole time of course, she is miserable and continues her verbal insults in hoping it's all just a bad dream. By this time the hospital is wondering where the doc is, and Helena's somewhat boyfriend Ray (A younger, and in this role MEANER Jim Paxton) who is like some sort of cast-off cowboy/biker type, is looking for her. The themes of love, obsession, and erotic desire are pretty thick in this film. Overall this part is done well. What drags is the acting I feel, of Julian Sands. At times he plays his character brilliantly, conveying Dr. Cavanaugh as a hopeless, sniveling person that has no confidence in himself. The dialogue gets a bit old as Nick continues to be caught in some dreamland of hope as he does an about face and despite Helena's verbal abuse (who can blame her?) continues to win her heart. Helena is at times extreme in the "shock and awe" department as we see how Nick continues to, um, do things to her to render her even more immobile. The ending is not expected at all, and overall this film is really one for the "contemporary" shelf, or something to watch if you want a mind tripping head game from that oh so recognizable obsessive male figure.

Sherilyn Fenn really steals the show here, although it's more for beauty and vicious vilifying than overall acting talent. Some always thought it was crazy that this was the movie Kim Basinger did a head fake on at the last second, dodging the role and going bankrupt because of the impending lawsuit. Looking at the careers of her and Sherilyn, I don't think in the big picture it really mattered. It is always fun to see Bill Paxton in this role as he's much younger and has not really played a character like this since. It's above mind popcorn, and below average, but considering the themes that it covers in an extreme and twisted kind of way, it works."
Provocative concept but extremely uneven in every way
ll4life | Los Angeles, CA USA | 07/01/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Okay. As a huge David Lynch fan (I gather like many folks who went to see the film), I thought I have a look at his daughter's film debut (and only film to date? I wonder why) to see what all the fuss was about. I remember the film when it was in theaters a decade ago. I also recalled the whole controversy over Kim Basinger's departure from the project. Seeing the DVD on the shelf in my favorite video store, I decided to give it a chance. Well, I have to say I don't see what the big hoopla was all about. The film played like a pumped up B movie potboiler melodrama and/or parody of one. Because Jennifer Chambers Lynch couldn't decide on the "tone" of the film, we are left to guess what her intentions were. I agree with other reviewers that the camerawork is extremely pretentious in a bad way and the script leaves much to be desired. Dr. Nick Cavanagh (Julian Sands) is obsessed with the very chilly and cruel Helena (Sherilyn Fenn) after having a one night stand with her awhile back. She loathes him and wants nothing to do with him. His equally chilly and cruel mom has just passed away and left him the palatial family estate. He moves in and things go downhill for him from there. I think if this film had been released under more subtle circumstances such as the work of a first-time filmmaker and been thought of as an experimental indie instead of commercial studio fare by the daughter of David Lynch, it would have been received more positively. The controversy may have generated audience interest in the film initially but it certainly didn't sustain it. I would argue it actually hurt the film's reception in general. I like the idea of exploring the nature of a man's sexual obsession and his enslavement to it but like many others, I don't buy into "Boxing Helena" premise. Set mainly in this mansion of sorts, Cavanagh is Dr. Frankenstein and Helena is his "creation." Is his idealized woman one without arms and legs? Is beauty just skin deep? We never get a sense of "why" Nick is obsessed with her. He has a seemingly understanding girlfriend - why Helena over her. Additionally, Fenn's character of Helena is so underdeveloped and one-dimensional. She does okay in the part nevertheless. Sands' Nick is also at a loss as well. I'm thinking a derivative of a Norman Bates for the 1990s. With all his mother issues, you would think an intelligent man would seek a shrink asap. At least, his colleagues at the hospital should have noticed the doctor's odd behavior and institutionalized him on the spot. Poor Julian Sands - he is not a bad actor but seems to be stuck in some bad movie projects. Also, why is Art Garfunkel in this film!?!? Bill Paxton has a supporting role as Helena's studly, wannabe rocker/musician (?) boyfriend but he is also underutilized in the film except for acting out the macho man that Nick isn't apparently. Also, one thing I did find hilarious are the extra-textual references to Sands' earlier film, Merchant-Ivory's A Room with a View (1986)in which he played the enigmatic hero George Emerson who romances and wins the young heroine Lucy Honeychurch, played by actress Helena Bonham-Carter! If you watch the film, pay attention to the soundtrack and dialogue.
Is Lynch taking a stab at Merchant-Ivory's polite notion of love's passions? Maybe and may not since there isn't any guiding focus to the film.Though highly flawed, you may want to have a look and have fun playing the critic."
Middle of the Road
K. Balser | Lenexa, KS | 07/24/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I agree with the many reviewers that said this movie was very poorly scripted with a barely believable plot. However, it was like a train wreck: you can't look away, especially when Sherilyn Fenn begins to lose a limb every other scene. Just bizarre! Julian Sands' acting left a lot to be desired, although it may just have been the script. Sherilyn Fenn, who plays Helena is absolutely beautiful and did an okay job, considering that her character didn't have much dialogue, other than to scream at Julian's character, Nick, every 5 seconds on "You make me sick! I hate you! You did this to me!"
All in all, it's not a great movie and would never be up for any kind of award, but if you're looking for an unpredictable and dark movie, this one will fit the bill."
Not for the faint of heart
When It Rains | maryland | 10/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

Jennifer Chambers Lynch got alot of criticism for this movie.Perhaps because many held her up in high regard since her father David Lynch created the series Twin Peaks.However,it should be noted that she was only 19 years old when she did this movie! In my opinion,quite impressive vision for someone her age.Unfortunately she has not done anything since.
This movie has beautiful backgrounds and scenery throughout and some very sensual music from Graeme Revell and Enigma. Many reviews state that the characters just aren't likeable,but to me, that is the whole point. I liked the realness of these characters, that's not sugar coated like in many other movies. You see them being awkward and insecure, and hateful and neurotic.The true dark side of human obsession and lust.

The story is about Dr. Nick Cavanah,who although is an excellent surgeon and quite wealthy,has some hang ups with women...Early on we learn he has a very odd fascination with his mother,whom from what I can tell is bit of a slut.She dies and he becomes obsessed with a woman who shares similar qualities to her~The beautiful,but bitchy and shallow Helena.After sleeping with him one time,Helena discards him.While Nick currently has a girlfriend,Ann,he cannot get Helena out of mind and frequently stalks her apartment and peers in her windows.
He sends her flowers and devises a plan to get her to visit his home by throwing a huge party at his mansion.
(once his mother's home)
Helena attends the party,but ignores Nick and flirts with his friend Russell. Her and Russell decide to leave together as Nick is left pining for Helena.
Helena has left her purse at Nick's house and phones for it.She needs her address book because she is planning on going to Mexico.Nick meets up with her and has her come back to his place claiming he cant find it.Apparently Nick had the address book the whole time and angry Helena storms out only to be hit by a truck that looks as though it snaps her leg in half and keeps on driving.
Now Nick has Helena exactly where he wants her.He's a surgeon,and instead of taking her to the hospital,it looks as though Nick has taken it apon himself to operate on Helena in his mansion.Removing not just the one,but both legs!
Helena hates him for this and doesn't let him forget it by constantly yelling at him and degrading him verbally in any way she can.
And although Nick appears to think of Helena as some kind of trophy he now owns,he doesn't stop trying to prove his love to her.He waits on her hand and foot,picks her fresh flowers,brushes her hair,feeds her and reads to her.
We start to think perhaps they may fall in love,but then there is a twist and things are not how they seem...

If you're one of those people who only goes to see Box office smashes or likes movies to be completely concrete,this is not a movie for you. However,if you find yourself intrigued by cult classics and have an open mind,you may find this film to be a sinful pleasure.
This movie did not get good reviews,and does have some bad acting.Yet to me it is wonderfully different and refreshing.
I tend to like movies that push the edge~cult classics that dare to be different.If you are one of these people,this is the movie might be for you! If not,you will be highly disappointed it doesn't have the commercial appeal as most movies today do."